On March 13, 2001, female sales associates and managers working for MetLife Insurance Company filed a class action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge William H. Pauley III alleging systemic gender discrimination in hiring, pay, promotion, and benefits, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., as amended, and 42 U.S.C. § 1981a; the New York State Human Rights Law, New York Executive Law § 290 et seq; and Title 8 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York.
Specifically the plaintiffs alleged that MetLife consistently discriminated against women in promotions to certain management and vice president positions and that while 25 percent of account representatives were female, only 7 percent of managing directors were female. All seventeen regional and zonal vice presidents were male. The complaint also alleged that MetLife discriminated in compensation, working conditions, privileges, and other aspects of employment, such as paying women less than men in comparable positions and retaliating for reports of discrimination. The complaint alleged ths discrimination was systemic.
The plaintiffs sought to certify a class of "all female past, present, and future employees who have been employed within the Insurance and Financial Services Division of MetLife or its successor group, if any, since August 27, 1999, or who will be so employed between the date of the filing of this complaint and the date of judgment in this action, and all female applicants for those positions with MetLife who have been, continue to be, or in the future may be, denied employment opportunities or were deterred from applying for those positions during this same time period (the 'Class')." They also also sought to certify a subclass of plaintiffs who had worked for MetLife in New York.
The plaintiffs sought injunctive, declaratory and monetary relief. On August 20, 2003, the court granted a conditional certification of the settlement class and preliminary approval of a proposed consent decree and attorneys' fees and costs. It also scheduled a fairness hearing for November 6, 2003.
On November 6, 2003, the court approved a classwide consent decree agreed to by the parties, and awarded $3.4 million in attorneys fees. Mitchell v. Metro. Life Insurance Co., 01-2112, 2003 WL 25914312 (S.D.N.Y. August 20, 2003).
The settlement class consisted of "all women who have been employed in a Sales Position or Sales Management Position in MLFS at any time on or after August 27, 1999 through the Preliminary Approval Date." Disputes were to be handled by Michael D. Young, Esq., a Special Master, whom MetLife agreed to pay $50,000.
The three-year consent decree required MetLife to appoint a monitor to oversee compliance with benchmarks, review complaints of gender discrimination, meet with managers regularly, meet with class counsel, and submit all information pertaining to class counsel. MetLife agreed to pay all expenses of the monitor, estimated to be $750,000. MetLife agreed to create a written complaint procedure for cases of gender discrimination and to hire at least six "HR generalists" to track complaints. MetLife agreed to create a new anti-discrimination policy and to train all employees, spending an estimated $1.6m. MetLife also agreed to meet or use best efforts to meet benchmarks of certain percentages of women in management positions.
MetLife also agreed to pay an estimated $600,000 for agency management training and $600,000 to recruit female employees and to spend $350,000 on a management development program for high potential sales personnel.
MetLIfe agreed to pay $5m into a settlement fund, $25,000 to a reserve fund to pay claims of inadvertently omitted qualified claimants, fees of the Claims Administrator up to $150,000; a minimum payment of $1000 to each claimant and additional funds based on a point system that considered the position the claimant held and the time spent in the positions.
The docket notes that the case closed on November 6, 2003. One calss member opted out of the settlement and on December 31, 2003 filed an individual complaint in the same court. This case appears in this database as EE-NY-0256. The docket in that case indicates a private settlement, the terms of which are not publicly available.Eric Weiler - 06/16/2010